Things were not supposed to be this way for the Florida Panthers this season.
This season was a season in which the Panthers would make the playoffs. This season presented an opportunity for players to stay healthy, be productive, and be consistent on a nightly basis. Lastly, this year was supposed to be a year in which the the team became a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, what was supposed to happen for this team never even came close to coming to fruition. In fact, it can be said that this year was a complete failure for this hockey club.
With the season close to being done, the Panthers are going to miss the playoffs again. For a franchise that has been around since the 1993-94 season, the postseason has always been something that has been fleeting for this hockey club and it is going to be that way once again this year.
As of this writing the team is 10 points out of the second wild card spot with 78 points. With just six games remaining, it is safe to say that they are not going to catch anyone for a playoff spot.
So what went wrong for the Panthers this season? Basically put, this team has been awful at keeping the puck out of their net.
The team is currently 28th in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 256 goals in 76 games. This means they are allowing over three goals per game, which certainly does not help a team win hockey games.
Both of the club’s goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, have been terrible this season. Yes, the team in front of them has clearly been bad as well, but the team has not been able to get a save this season.
Luongo, 39, has had his worst season since joining the league. He is currently 15-16-4 with a 3.19 goals-against average, a .897 save percentage, and one shutout.
Luongo has been fantastic throughout his whole career. Heck, he may even be a future Hockey Hall of Famer. With that said, it is clear that his age is finally catching up to him and that he is approaching the end of his career.
Reimer, 31, has also been awful for his club this season. He is 13-11-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. Yes, those numbers are actually better than Luongo’s, but he certainly has not provided the consistent goaltending that is needed in order to get a team into the postseason.
Clearly, Luongo and Reimer got no help from the guys in front of them. This team turns over the puck, is caught out of position way too often, and does not do a good enough job of protecting their goaltenders.
What’s really unfortunate is that the team’s offense has actually been good this season. As of this writing the team is ninth in the league in goals scored as they currently have 245 goals in 76 games, which means they are averaging over three goals per game.
With that said, that number has not mattered this season. The team has allowed more goals than they have given up, which has caused them to lose a lot of games this season.
It doesn’t matter if your team scores a lot of goals if said team cannot keep the puck out of their net. Unfortunately for the Panthers, it is going to end up costing them a shot at hockey’s Holy Grail.
Photo: Miami Herald